Built in 1929, Ty Gwyn has been many things to many people… TB hospital; wartime recuperation centre; outdoor pursuit centre and more recently a venue for friends and families to come together for activity holidays or very special occasions - Big House By The Sea. We are proud to have taken an unloved, neglected property and given it a new lease of life with a long term, sustainable future.
Margaret (Daisy) Sidney Davies of Gregynog (1884-1963), art collector and benefactress was heavily involved in many philanthropic, artistic enterprises and a number of charity homes. In 1930, she founded the Tŷ Gwyn Charity Convalescent Home at Llwyngwril, Merionethshire, which was intended to benefit ill-nourished or delicate girls who needed long term care, especially those from South Wales. It ran until 1961, and a similar venture, the White House charity at Folkestone in Kent, ran from 1928 until 1963. Tŷ Gwyn was one of Daisy’s special concerns, she felt very at home here and joined happily and unselfconsciously in the activities and establishing a warmer relationship with the staff than ever seemed possible at Gregynog.
In 1962 the property was gifted to Merionethshire County Council on trust for charitable and/or educational use by Merionethshire, Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire. The property was used as a residential school and later as an outdoor pursuit centre, but following a report submitted before the Meirionnydd Area Committee on the 11th of July 2011 stating that a minimum of £200,000 would need to be spent to bring Tŷ Gwyn up to a suitable standard, the committee’s recommendation was to sell Tŷ Gwyn on terms and conditions to be determined by the Corporate Property Manager.
Lawrence and I took over Tŷ Gwyn in April 2014 and immediately set about ‘tidying up’ and it took us 2 months to cut up and burn the fir trees that came down during a bad storm in February of that year. We then spent the whole of the summer getting rid of the old fencing gorse bushes that had colonised the land! A local contractor did a great job of landscaping the grounds for us and he continues to be a friend for us and Ty Gwyn.
For the last few years we have really just been putting right the wrongs done to Tŷ Gwyn. It might have been due to a lack of funds but we couldn’t see any excuse for using plastic guttering or completely inappropriate casement windows instead of the original sash designs. We spent the first three years refurbishing the original sash windows, all 63 of them! We sandblasted any cast iron guttering that was left and the ornate hoppers and they now look beautiful finished with a fresh coat of semi-gloss enamel paint.
Ty Gwyn has necessarily adapted to the varieties of uses it has been asked to accommodate. When it was originally built as a TB hospital, many areas had no windows, as patients were encouraged to get as much fresh air as possible - these areas are now enclosed to keep the heat in and Ty Gwyn is now warm and comfortable and as environmentally friendly as a building of this size can be. All heat sources, including the central heating boiler and the stoves for the sauna and hot tub are all fed with wood from sustainable sources. Central heating was installed in Ty Gwyn at some point in it’s life and the 2 inch cast iron pipes that run throughout the house and the ‘old school’ cast iron radiators are now a real feature of the house - unfortunately most of the original fireplaces were removed, although some do survive.
Ty Gwyn is as up to date as a building like this can be - extensive work was undertaken in 2008 in an effort to improve fire safety, unfortunately this meant that many of the original doors were removed to be replaced with modern mdf fire doors with vision panels but for an institution like Ty Gwyn, this was obviously very necessary. More recently the issue of accessibility as been addressed with some tweaks to the internal configuration to provide and accessible bedroom and bathroom and access to all areas on the ground floor for wheelchair users, which is something very close to our own hearts.
Fortunately we didn’t need to do any structural work on Tŷ Gwyn as it had been so well made all those years ago and the original design of 1929 was superb. All the work done was to get the house back to how it should have always been and with plenty of hard work and a fair bit of cash we have hopefully achieved that. We have loved every minute of it so far - Tŷ Gwyn is a very special house in a very special location and it deserves to be looked after.